Re[2]: RELIGION: The meaning of Life

Guru George (
Sat, 15 Feb 1997 20:36:42 GMT

On Fri, 14 Feb 1997 01:52:37 -0600
Gregory Houston <> wrote:
>Guru George wrote:
>>> Gregory Houston <> wrote:
>> [SNIP]
>> >What is truth?
>> [SNIP]
>Though it is difficult to see out of context, the quote above was a
>rhetorical question, but I appreciate your response none the less.

That's OK, it was a rhetorical reply ;-)
>> However, since we can't step outside ourselves to check words against
>> reality, when we call something true that means we *conjecture* it to be
>> true.
>So we are saying one thing, but we means something *slightly* different.
>This is one of my difficulties with the term truth, by definition it
>does not include this element of conjecture or skepticism. By definition
>it is absolute, and not particularly questionable. Do you not imagine
>that we might come up with a better term for what we are talking about.
>One which is a bit more accurate or *true* [to use the term loosely].
>The dictionary definition of truth is not entirely consistent with the
>manner in which it is being used by science. Would it not make more
>sense to create a more accurate word ... and then while doing so,
>questioning all the priorities which truth and the new word both entail.

I think the confusion lies in thinking that the definition of truth
gives us some understanding of how to test for truth. As I said above,
it does nothing of the kind. We test for truth by more or less
pragmatic or Popperian methods. The definition of truth stipulates an
*ideal* scenario. It defines what we *want*. It doesn't help us to get
there. (That much of the hullaballoo against truth this century is
correct. But to ditch truth as a concept, an ideal, is to throw the baby
out with the bathwater.)

>I like the word conjecture. It is derived from "com" which means
>"together", and "jacere" which means "to throw"; to throw together. The
>term conjecture seems much more dynamic than that of truth, which seems
>extremely static. Perhaps the word "conjection" would be more suitable.

Conjecture and truth are not in competition: everything that we have
that we *call* truth we *conjecture* to be truth in the ideal sense. I
really don't see what's so difficult or problematic about this.

[interesting discussion of 'conjecture' and new coinage of 'conjection'

>I believe these terms or terms created with similar meaning, would be
>more suitable to PCR.

I don't: it seems needlessly complicated.
>I don't expect anyone to take this whole conjection/conjective thing too
>seriously, but it illustrates a problem and the beginnings of a
>solution. For several reasons, some mentioned above, the term "truth" is
>not wholly appropriate to our use of it. I believe the term is
>inhibitory in one sense due to its bias on a specific modality of
>consciousness, and inhibitory in another sense due to its static nature,
>and its reference to reality without relation to anything else.
>Reality changes, there is no absolute reality, so how could there be an
>absolute truth. How can we seek absolute truth, something that is
>suppose to accord with reality, when reality itself is not absolute and
>unchanging. I believe this problem can be solved by more refined, more
>appropriate and thus *useful* terminology.
>Our theoris progress, shouldn't our terminology also?
>Perhaps the term truth is not yet archaic or obsolete, but I imagine it
>will one day be so. It merely requires that enough people find it
>neccessary for more *useful* terminology.

It just seems to me that the concept of truth is precisely the most
useful concept we have: it tells us what we're aiming *for*, as opposed
to what we've *got*, which is what you're talking about, I think.

>I'm not sure how exactly this relates, call it an intuitive addition.
>But I recall someone mentioning once how a surfer can recognize between
>twenty or more different kinds of waves, whereas when I look out at the
>ocean, I just see big or small waves [I live in the midwest so I don't
>see the ocean or waves often]. I guess I'm proposing in a sense that we
>begin to differentiate truth by creating more accurate and less loaded
>terms for it. Perhaps that wasn't a good metaphor, but heres another one
>along the same lines. In the orient [and elsewhere] many people
>generally recognize seven different chakras [some esoteric groups
>differentiate between many more]. These chakras are intended to
>represent states of consciousnes or modalities of consciousness. Compare
>this to the three or so that we tend to focus on, rational [cognitive],
>irrational [emotive], and non-rational [intuitive]. I think there is a
>great deal of room here for some sophistication and greater sensibility.
>Hitherto I have only been pushing for more balance between the three we
>recognize, enhancing the emotive and intuitive, but then there are still
>other modalities yet. They could all "prove" to be useful in some
>fashion where science is concerned.

If there's only three chakras, then there's only three, if there's more
there's more: what's the difficulty?

>If we do not have language for something, we might not even recognize
>it. There is a great deal of literature on how our language shapes our
>perception of reality. I do not believe arguments of semantics and
>semiotics are wasted time. Isn't this one of the key elements of

What you are talking about, with your waves example (and such things as
the the traditional
Eskimo's snow example, which was recently and amusingly discussed here)
is, I believe, this: there are many different ways of being interested
in things, and these different ways of being interested in things will
prompt us to ask different questions, with different levels of focus on
reality. But if I, with my meager knowledge of waves ask "is that an x
wave or a y wave?" that question can be answered truly or falsely; and
if a wave-expert asks "is that an x1, y, alpha, gamma or epsilon wave?"
that question can be answered truly or falsely.

Guru George